The Summer Day
I don’t know exactly what a prayer is.
I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down
into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass,
how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields,
which is what I have been doing all day.
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
Copyright @ 1990 by Mary Oliver. First published in House of Light, Beacon Press. Reprinted in The Truro Bear and Other Adventures: Poems and Essays, Beacon Press.
The first time I heard about Mary Oliver was my first semester of college. I think it’s the only Environmental Studies course that I ended up taking. It involved visits to the art gallery and a field trip to Mohonk and another to John Burroughs’ cabin. I remember the professor mentioning that Mary Oliver ended up leaving Vassar, but I think I skipped reading her poetry for some reason or another (aka four other classes and some extracurricular everyday).
A couple of years later I was online and came across the quote at the top of the page that I loved and was pleasantly surprised to see that it was from a poem by her. I remember feeling an affinity with her because she also left Vassar and things seemed to turn out ok.
So I just went back and was reading through her poetry and this poem seemed so perfect for the past year. Everything else that I’ve been reading of hers seems to resonate with this time in my life too.